1,000-Year-Old Remains May Be Of A Highly Respected Nonbinary Warrior, Study Finds

1000-Year-Old Remnants May Be Of A Highly Respected, Nonbinary Warrior. Study FindsClick to enlarge the image.An analysis of Finnish ancient DNA has revealed a surprising surprise 100 years later: the remains of a medieval female warrior that was thought to have been male may have been nonbinary.Researchers concluded that the new findings, which challenge traditional ideas about gender expression and roles, suggest that nonbinary individuals are valued and respected members of their communities. The study was published in peer-reviewed European Journal of Archaeology.Ulla Moilanen (lead author of the study and archaeologist at Finland’s University of Turku) said that the findings serve as a reminder of how "biology doesn't directly dictate a person’s self-identity."The grave was first discovered by archaeologists in 1968. The remains were found in Suontaka Vesitorninmki in southern Finland. They were buried with jewelry and a sword.However, DNA analysis was performed decades later and revealed chromosomes not expected to be matched for either males or women. Researchers based in Germany and Finland concluded that the buried person probably had Klinefelter syndrome, and was anatomically male.Females usually have two Xchromosomes (XX), while males are born with one and one Ychromosome (XY). According to the United Kingdom's National Health Service, males with Klinefelter syndrome have an extra Xchromosome (XXYY).About 1 in 660 men are affected by the syndrome. Klinefelter patients may have low testosterone levels, an enlarged breasts, infertility, and a smaller penis. Some people don't get diagnosed until they are older, when they test for fertility. Others are never diagnosed.Researchers noted in their findings that the remains had been "badly damaged" and they had only a small sample of material to test. They did however find overwhelming evidence through modeling that the Suontaka person's genetic data most closely matches an XXY Karyotype.Researchers concluded that the remains belonged to a respected individual whose gender identity might have been non-binary because of the honorable manner in which the warrior was buried.Moilanen stated that if the Klinefelter Syndrome characteristics were evident on the person they might not have had to be considered a woman or a man in the Early Middle Ages society. Moilanen said that the abundant number of objects found in the grave proves that the person was valued and respected.New research suggests that even in the "ultra-masculine climate of early medieval Scandinavia," where men with "feminine social role and [who] wore feminine clothing were disregarded and considered shameful," there were individuals who didn't fit the gender norms but were still admired.Livescience heard from other historians and archaeologists who were not involved in the new discoveries. They found it exciting because it brought attention to discussions about gender, bodies, and identity.Leszek Gardela from the National Museum of Denmark said, "It's a well-researched investigation of an interesting burial." It shows that early medieval societies had very nuanced views and understandings about gender identity.